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Duane Anderson

Nevada, USA

It was her first time at a blood drive,

and maybe her last

as five different people tried,

five with different years of experience,

failed at drawing blood from the vein in her left arm. 

Five tries, poking and prodding,

five attempts, the same result,

and after all the consecutive failures,

she gave the go ahead to try her other arm,

one last chance, a different vein, and this time,

striking the mother lode on the first try,

blood flowing down the tube into the bag. 

Success, and now, maybe after all,

there might be a next time. 



Sarfraz Ahmed

https://www. linkedin. com/in/sarfrazahmedcareersadviser/

https://twitter. com/Sarfraz76194745

https://www. instagram. com/sarfrazahmedpoet/

a passing thought

on a passing train

blood pumping through every vein

yes, I’m still here

still standing


still flowing through my veins

even more demanding. 

stronger than ever

stronger than steel

no longer thinking

what others feel

finally taking flight

the caged bird is finally free

I am being who I want to be

I am being me. 



Kyle Katz



From pupil to teacher

fifty years work nearly done. 

Life lessons taught

to your far away son. 

A full life of service

to all that you met. 

Not one single moment

do you want to forget. 


You’ve been hurt and have hurt

many times in your life. 

Loving and laughing while

on the edge of a knife. 

Working at thirteen;

bailing hay was just play. 

At sixty-two it’s ‘no thanks’ 

“You had your day. ”


Muscles betray you;

random thoughts disappear. 

The crispness of sounds dim

the horizon’s unclear. 


The hourglass remains steady

bottom heavy, not the top. 

The flow remains constant

the grains never stop. 


Just an old man braying 

about the pasture and the rust. 

Saying hello to my father

from star dust to dust. 



Cynthia Bernard

California, USA

Rows of deep pink crescents 

on both palms;

often, too often, the moons of me. 

I unfurl my aching fingers

and watch the moons rise. 

Though my nails are deeply bitten,

they still make moonscapes

when fists clench and clench again. 

I let my rigid arms go limp,

releasing trembling ribs and legs. 

First deep breath over raw throat—

eyes fill. 

At last safe to cry,

no longer wrapped so tight. 

Fractured but not completely broken,

I gather up the lunar rocks,

my moondust,

bits of shadow from the craters, 

try to figure out how they fit. 

Crouched in the corner, again and again,

I put the pieces back together,

more or less—

a cobbled-together self, 

until I am old enough to get away. 

I will have a life, 

I will not be eclipsed,




Thomas Piekarski

California, USA


When the order comes down to surrender weapons

and give inner peace the opportunity to flourish

the angry anarchist will ignore such doctrines

that make him compromise his deep enmity. 

When empty space seems seamless as midnight

loose ends get tied while light seeps through 

and precepts we thought suppressed shall

bubble to the surface of mystic worlds. 

While inside the Earth resounding thunder builds

we remain unaware of all the power it carries 

and people's world views become distorted

even though they don't see anything new. 

When solutions come and go and then around again

they become concrete in our aggregate mind that

will be studied by future scholars digging deep 

to ascertain why certain events transpired. 

When thieves are free to rob and batter innocents

the effect is to deplete hapless folk of all hope

and dupe them into surrendering freedoms

they have long felt essential for survival.  

Should the magnetic pole shift suddenly no doubt 

the masses will be frozen in a state of confusion

as to what this marathon called life is worth

regardless of any former conceptions. 

If woeful politicians continue devising schemes

to benefit those corrupt empowered autocrats

who control mass media some day we may 

be begging for a merciful square deal. 

In these turbulent times may we encourage rhyme

to sing on blithely despite desperate conditions.  

so that steadfast patriots rise to the surface

defending what is theirs by rite of birth. 



Karuna Mistry

United Kingdom

https://karunacreations. wordpress. com/

https://www. instagram. com/karunamistrypoetry/

Are you a vegetarian?

Or a fruitarian?

I’m a pesky terrier

To bite you

Are you snarling at me?

As I bark away

Climbing up the tree

Staring back

Are you a bone picker?

Sticks and stones

Dig your hole deeper

Six feet under

Are you feeling sorry now?

I collared you

Caught you way down

At the letterbox

Are you trying your luck?

Mr. bag of tricks

Every day you suck

Posting stuff



Alan Bedworth

United Kingdom

Sat in bed shaking your head,

and dandruff appears to be

your brain cells falling

from your memories of yesterdays. 

You go to pick up your cup

up to drink your tea,

and your hand decides that you

should wear the tea instead of drinking it. 

Yes, you still have your humour,

when your brain and body fight

like boxers in a ring,

deciding on who will win. 

Enough of this lying in bed. 

So, you hutch up and swing

your legs to the floor,

as one with body and brain you're up. 

But that was the easy part,

as soon as you straighten

your body decides to breakdance. 

Head, hands and legs all shaking in time. 

Yet throughout this daily torture. 

There's no sorrow or woe is me. 

No, none of that for you,

you're still able to smile to achieve your goal. 

This story I've told you about this man,

makes him extraordinary in this time. 

A character full of determination,

with no time to whine. 



Heidi Gilles

California, USA

https://www. instagram. com/the_heart_pages/


The sun will find you,

even when the shadows

seem more plentiful -

If we let them,

they will build strength. 

The walls we try to create,

often crumble -

and hope seems lost. 

With persistence, and fortitude the

sun will find you,

and its arms will envelope -

your heart in warmth, and

provide new strength. 

Open your window, then,

listen for the signs, breath in what

you are becoming -

rise up each day

and fight. 

She is a golden warrior,



Peter Mladninic

New Mexico, USA

https://petermladinic. com

Mall, casino, stadium, golf course, church,

hospital, library.  Books take up too much

space.  They can be digitalized, then we can

take down walls, floor, roof, level the library,

and in its place make a parking lot.  Society,

by ignoring literature, by putting the library

in a far corner, devalues literature.  It’s not

important.  All literature’s basic question is

What does it mean to be human? A society

that doesn’t value literature doesn’t value

language.   Literature.  There’s jargon: math

literate, baseball literate, computer literate,

epithets for familiarity with vocabulary of

these entities.  But literature, as in literate,

is unique.  Not all writing is concerned with

the human question.  Language is important. 

Words matter.   Carlos Fuentes defines

language as a social event.  Words express

thoughts, feelings.  Besides body language

and deeds, language is our source of 

communication: let me tell you how I feel,

what I think.  Communication is knowledge,

the opposite of knowledge, ignorance. 

Village.  Literacy communication, knowledge

harmony, prosperity.  Illiteracy isolation,

ignorance, discord, poverty of spirit. 

Library—I want to sit in a chair and be seen

reading Faulkner.  I want others to read. 



Judy DeCroce

New York, USA


Present was up to his old tricks

pretending he would always be here. 

Then Memory stumbles in

muddying up. 

Remember forces us to step

into those other days, yesterdays. 

Present sits back and waits

nodding, staring out the window

not hurrying us.   He knows

Memory will run out. 

In the quiet he’ll stand up

and wrap today around us. 

We’ll notice some of the pieces missing

and find old tricks to help us go on. 



Brittany Benko


https://www. facebook. com/brittanybenko27

https://www. goodreads. com/author/show/20855899. Brittany_Benko


I am determined to speak my voice

Our opinions matter

We all have a choice

I am determined to stand up proud

While speaking into the mic

I'll draw in a crowd

I am determined to influence friends

I'll inspire them to be true to

themselves and unfollow trends

I am determined to speak the truth

Speaking with logic to our youth



Julie A.  Dickson

New Hampshire, USA


eve of autumnal equinox.          no cool breeze

brushes skin  prickle of heat prevails       sweat

beads on brow like so many pearls    iridescent 

shoulders bar    braided hair twisted up in case

rare draft blows across her neck      brown eyes

pools of warmth reflect        lazy birds circle sky


woman the vessel             for all time reminded

mothers grandmothers aunties          they speak

beginnings    Buddha   Rhea   Jesus   Inti   Cain

worship her womb Gaia Madonna  Pacamama

bloody show flows    earth gives birth    rivulets

run red  nourish ground   milk-fed      eve of life


diminish not her sacred breast   forsake not- lest

she withers  barren landscape   shivers the cold

winter’s eve  crimson tears fall     weeping earth

autumn demise  plants weary to death face snow

masks brown trace  breath held to spring rebirth

eve breaks forth  she survives          resilient she



Antoni Ooto

New York, USA

https://www. ooto. org

https://www. linkedin. com/in/antoniooto/


standing on that bridge

  watching bundles of restlessness

  tangle and eddy

currents of valor pass below,

  still, here we are, only a few years away

   kneeling on broken stones and bones

somehow a war belongs to a world

  that never softens

and it's coming again, filling our ears

  while we offer the same prayer

  with both hands open



Aqsa Samo, 16 Years Old

Sindh, Pakistan


Determination can't be retrieved,

because you aspired to achieve. 

Your motivation is a powerful weapon,

it can't be taken away by anyone. 

Fill up with bravery,

your fear will drain off your energy. 

You dream to reach your destiny,

don't be scared due to misery,

because adversity will make you steadfast. 

Now don't regret the past,

you have to move fast. 

Now flash a smile over your bright future,

you will be dedicated to innovation

and your adulation will be sung by your nation. 



Kristy Snedden


When I became a fish

that day in April, when the boys

at the nature center outfitted us

with wet suits and confidence,

the first section of the river

was peaceful and lapped our boat

so gently I asked you why

they called it running.

When I became a fish

the river moved faster,

we cleared some rapids,

there was splashing.  The water

was cold with spring melt,

we heard a roar and hurled

over the falls.  I popped out

of the boat, skin glinting. 

When I became a fish

there was no negotiation

before I hit the water.  My arms

slapped to my sides to open

my gills.  I slid with the current,

the wetness slick against my scales. 

I sculpted a fish trail. 

I sashayed around the rocks. 


When I became a fish

my black eyes glittered. 

My caudal fin guided me

into a family of rainbow

trout who were dropping

river pearls into piles

on the sandy bottom. 

I swam, serpentine, sinuous. 

When I became a fish

I heard you call for me,

I swam in place.  Water

slithered around me.  You

were searching.  I hid

behind a log, then showed you

my back, beckoned you

with my tail, frothy, promising. 

When I became a fish

you lifted me into the boat. 

I shivered violently,

I was flopping around the bottom,

until you undressed me,

left the wetsuit on the riverbank,

slid me through your hands

into a bucket of water. 

When I became a fish

we had lunch at a country café. 

You bought us the buffet and said

I never saw you eat so much

while dropping minnows and garden

hackles into my water.  We gorged

on crawfish, sated ourselves

with night crawlers and insect nymphs. 

When I became a fish.



Lesley Rogers Hobbs

https://lesleyrogershobbs. com

https://www. instagram. com/OpentoAbundance/

https://www. facebook. com/OpentoAbundance

The green sign reads:

Welcome to G--- Population 1300

Stump-trees black, a roofless barn

house after house abandoned

under spring’s oatmeal sky. 

No windows, no curtains playing

in the wind, no laughter, no tears. 

Flames licked the sky

when the world erupted

in fury

last summer,

blue skies burned orange

leaves crumbled

to ash –

fragments of hope gathered

in heaps

funeral mounds, requiem

for a future. 

The sidewalks through town

bloom riotous yellow and purple,

weeds stretch through crevices

tenacious and sure. 



Shampa Saha

Purple petals are nodding in a bow. 

It’s ready to flow with the wind

spreading its fragrance where

it determines to flourish the mind. 


The sky asks why the clouds are dark?

They must be blue in whole

light is determined to brighten

the dark like a diamond in a pile of coal. 

Mountains are the barriers to the chilly frost

they are determined to stop the freeze. 

To grow in green and blue

and not the warmth to be squeezed. 

All the creatures determined to be together

loitering in flocks. 

Alone the man, who forgets the promise

Due to their mind blocks. 

Human is determined to be human

In front of his father, God. 

They forgot to keep their promise

and didn't work what they ought. 

If the determination is taken as oath

it should be strong as stone. 

Be determined, the God advice

in a high baritone. 



D. R.  James

Michigan, USA

https://www. amazon. com/D. -R. -James/e/B00IW6KT3W

https://www. amazon. com/This-Aint-High-School-Anymore/dp/B099C14N6G

Ivory spines disguise the oaks’ south sides,

slivers of sunshine lightening their rough

trunks.  What furrowed pallor, what dignity:

spires anchored to all others underneath,

delight clad in the plucked bones of winter. 
What diligence, what staid bystanding: a

throng of distinct ascetics, enmeshed horde

of collective loners.  It’s as if they’re

avowing how steadfastness, soon resumed,

enroots in you your essential locale. 

—first published in MORIA



K. G.  Munro


Burn me with the force of a thousand flames,

I'll keep on changing,

From the ashes to the sun's rays,

I'm a white butterfly in the rain,

One that keeps on flying,

Even when the world is on fire,

Just smoke in the clouds,

Sounds of my wings flapping

I'll keep on flying towards the stars,

In the blue of the universe,

Atoms call my name,

Milky Ways are my home,

The moon is my Polaris

As I leave behind the shattered rock,

Going back to where all it started,

The first spark to light the darkness. 



Zulekha Takoliya

The aftermath is harder

than the eye of the storm. 

Despite the rocks and boulders

amidst the storm

the boat must keep moving

if it wants to reach the shore. 

After you reach the shore – 

battered and bruised – 

you need to be treated. 

That is what the harbour is for,

Use it, rest in it, heal in it,

Treat all the wounds. 

Then you must leave the harbour. 

Do not live in it through fear,

Or you will pale and fade. 

You will be looked at from afar,

But you will never travel far. 

So go greet the sea once again;

Become its Master. 

Be Your own Travelling Ship;

Meet those waves. 

Keep Riding when the storm hits again,

But Visit the Harbour for Maintenance. 

It is deep enough,

spacious enough,

For every type of visiting boat and ship at sea. 



Michael Ball

Massachusetts, USA


Daily, even in brutal weather,

one neighbor traverses our steep hill. 

This claudicated climber clomps

her twisted left foot and sets it

firmly at each stride.  We all wince

at her struggle, but she stays on task. 

She keeps us honest, we who find

the weakest excuse for inertia. 

She is a warrior who does not roar

nor clang sword to breastplate. 

On her route, she always greets the couple. 

Like matched salt and peppers, the frail pair,

two sallow grayheads, police their wee,

yet lush, triangular garden twice daily

at an intersection named for a long-dead

WWI soldier of low rank at just one

such street meeting that Boston insists

on calling a square, (We could look South

to Savannah to see how squares are done. )

Four spindled forearms recall white birch,

though not as thick, smooth nor pale. 

These two also walk our sheer hill daily. 

My eyes greet hers as she strives upward,

and my mouth says, “This is some hill. ”

She glances at her man shuffling, lagging,

“This hill is the only thing keeping us alive. ”

They advance together in joint measure,

steadily and slowly as a fog cloud arriving. 



by Shelly Blankman

Maryland, USA

https://www. amazon. com/Pumpkinhead-Poems-Michele-Hyatt-Blankman/dp/1676958169


Only the steady tick of the wall clock

cracks the silence.  A hushed crowd 

waits for him, poised like a cat ready

to pounce on his prey, a balance beam, 

eyes, fixed ahead.  Tick … tick … tick…


He looks so fragile, ashen, thin from

years of illness, hospitalizations, brain

surgery.  Challenges in and out of school

since kindergarten, now 14 and better,

more spirited.  No one would know his pain. 


No one would sense his sorrow, not by

the mountains he scaled like hills.  No one

would see a child whose life had snaked

into a spectator of sports and games he

couldn’t play, parties he couldn’t attend. 


And now I wait for the moment … his

moment . . .  to shed the darkness and

shine, dauntless as an Olympian seeking

the gold.  His muscles flex, he runs and

launches, lands firmly on his hands, body


sword-straight, toes pointed skyward toward

limitless space.  The only sound, the clock.  He

dismounts and the crowd rises to its feet, applauds

wildly.  Joshua smiles.  I do, too … through my

tears.  A milestone achieved.  A life begun anew. 


Previously published in Halfway Down the Stairs



Marsha Warren Mittman

South Dakota, USA

http://www. thenextfoundation. org


he went AWOL

from the tsar’s army

fully knowing if caught

he’d be shot

but figured he’d die

anyway, fighting the war

so, he took a chance

escaped in a blizzard

and started walking across

Russia, towards the west,

always west, to Europe

and any port with a ship

sailing for fabled America

it took nine years

but he persevered and

achieved his dream

upon arriving in legendary

New York City everyone

called him a greenhorn

a derogatory slang term for

an inexperienced immigrant

but to great-grandfather

“greenhorn” meant freedom

the sweetest word ever



Maryam Imogen Ghouth


https://www. maryamghouth. com

https://www. instagram. com/maryamghouth/

https://www. youtube. com/c/maryamghouth

“Heal, heal,” they say, but

how long does it take a forest

to recover from wildfire?

80 years and longer. 

Meanwhile, the forest floor breathes;

she finally sees

the silken sheets of sunlight

fanning her a breeze;

the nutrients from dead trees nourish

her soil like the puckered beaks

of mother birds offering up slain worms

for their hungry chicks;

pinecones throw open like maidens in heat;

wind-swept seedlings put out rainbow shoots;

hollyhocks rise from the ashes

like Cappadocian hot air balloons;

the charred remains of tree trunks,

proud like gothic castles,

provide shelter for the two-winged, the six-legged,

the squirrel and mink who make

their homes in hollow bark. 


The wound gives. 


Mark Hudson


Inspiration: The article: The right ingredients

Chicago Tribune Section 6 Sunday, January 1, 2016

Eric was homeless at the age of fifteen,

a foster care child who struggled with his means. 

Coming from Chicago, he went to Niles,

going to school became one of his trials. 

His family moved back to the city, but Eric didn’t go,

determined to succeed, he worked hard, not slow. 

He stayed at a friend’s house, but that fell through,

homeless, he still would show up for school. 

Eric got a job at a place called the French Pastry School,

and he worked hard, using discipline as a chosen tool. 

He took on a job almost impossible for the average teen,

learning recipes and ingredients that he’d never seen. 

He learned how to measure sugar from a spoon,

he brought his mom French cookies and macaroons. 

In all his studies, he probably never got an F,

and now at eighteen, he’s working full-time as a chef. 

An unexpected shining example of maturity,

an eighteen-year-old kid who has job security. 

As I write this, I am completely touched by this kid,

I think of me at eighteen, from responsibility I hid. 

I worked in the restaurant business for ten years, too,

it was an utter disaster, it left me with the blues. 

I couldn’t wash the dishes right without making mistakes,

but here is a eighteen-year-old chef making cakes. 

Being homeless can make you face reality younger,

and now, Eric satisfies other people’s hunger. 

When Eric graduated his family cried tears of joy,

The French pastry school is proud that they can employ. 

For the New Year’s Day paper today, this was one of the few,

positive articles they had, for everything else, nothing new. 

Negative news bombarded me from every area of the earth,

then I saw the article about Eric, and I recognized it’s worth. 



Lisa Keeton



The number of civilian deaths in the Russo-

Ukrainian war is 6300 and rising

Let’s go she says it’s taking too long

waiting around being destroyed. 

All these wires holding things together

inside my body keep poking around. 

They itch, sometimes they hurt. 

I think last night I heard them ticking. 

In the rubble, I saw enduring protest. 

I saw tears flowing into the earth

and I knew there was still life there. 

I saw what had been a tree root

cut into roots, splintered from itself. 

Why madness? Why the trees?

Where will the birds nest?

Latest reports show 14,400 total casualties. 

Numbers rise as bombs strike

women and children at work and school. 


Men as young as twelve continue

improvising with as little as fisticuffs. 

Only what we share can save us. 

Only language, imperfect

one- stringed instrument, can lead

to the source of what’s shared. 

Its broken neck held to its body

still gives out a flattened note

heard the same by every ear. 

Tell me again about the other place

where lines drawn are not the shape of

what’s been taken away.  I want to go

but there are no coins left for the ferry. 

They all got dropped during the struggle

and then starting over.  It doesn’t matter how,

we must find the place where they

welcome what’s most vulnerable. 



Kathy Jo Bryant

United States

Under stress and much strain

Unflinching am I

Uber someone on whom to rely!

Unable to win, NO!

Unflinching am I

Underneath it all, I will try!

Unending determination

Unflinching am I

Undefeated I'll be, by and by!



Najma Bhatti

Sindh, Pakistan


Beyond the heavens, above the stars,

Strong like mountains, tricks like a leopard,

Get ready ahead of you,

If the intention is to show something,

Don’t waste your time,

Don’t suffer for no reason,

Now that work is done,

The world was unfamiliar to him until now,

If you leave the house, you will find a way,

Success will come from hard work and sweat,

Not by standing hand in hand,

Difficulties I’ll also come and rebellions will also come with it,

The path of hard work is not easy,

This is very difficult path,

But you have not lost courage,

Next, where I have your good,

Do what you have to do with your passion,

Then look, the whole world will be at your feet. 



Navneet Bhullar

California, USA / India

Because you use only bed pans, he cannot use the commode. 

“Because you have a diaper on”, the nurse says from afar, “OK go. ”

Because he is asking to go to the bathroom, he is better.  

Do you hear the music in his words?

Because you violated the body,  listen.  

Because the sun is for all, and especially for the frail,

let  the  sun

In  so  his  gnarled  cheer  can  bloom.



Jane H Fitzgerald

Florida, USA

https://www. amazon. com/Jane-H. -Fitzgerald/e/B01MSW2FLO

https://www. facebook. com/JanesPoetry/

Later in life she finally understood

The slash of scarlet across the mouth

Cheeks powdered brightly as a cardinal’s breast 

Overly treated hair resulting in bizarre shades

Her image in the mirror was like a mirage

A distant, nebulous misty vision

Applying makeup was a blind guess

Like putting paint on a used canvas

Only vivid colors could cover what was done

This was a desperate effort to recapture

her young face

long lost in time

Her misapplied scarlet lipstick, bright as blood


An unwavering will which refused to surrender



(After Su Tung Po)

George Freek

Illinois, USA

The sky is like a table

made of glass, but clouds

drift through its cracks. 

Night arrives, and the day

is lost.  A star flickers. 

It’s what we’re made of,

but it sees nothing. 

It has no desires. 

It knows no fears. 

Soon it will burn to ashes. 

It does what it was

meant to do.  It’s born. 

It flickers, then it dies. 

I was only meant

to wonder why. 



Neal Whitman

California, USA

T. S.  Eliot in the “The Waste Land” said that April was the cruelest month.  He wrote this in the aftermath of the 1918 influenza pandemic when it was estimated that as many as fifty million died worldwide.  In this epic poem Eliot is expressing irony that this devastation coincided with a season normally associated with fecundity.  Living with Covid for two years now, we found ourselves last spring languishing.  To pull ourselves out of lethargy, my wife and I volunteered to help replenish a public park in our local community.  In its native-plant garden, we exchange smiles under masks.  Dig out the old, plant the new.  Over the summer we began to see the fruits of our labor.  Late blooming flowers now carry us into the autumn season.  


of bright red rose hips –

the flush of fall



KB Baltz


https://www. facebook. com/kbbaltzwriter


When I visited my future self

she took me in her arms

and held me

like I wish my mother had

before all the muscle

wasted from her bones. 

She smelled of wood smoke

and aged whiskey

with crows’ feet that

were filled with more

laughs then tears. 

A smile curled at the edge

of her lips

just like the one I have

practiced so many times

in the mirror and she holds my

hand.  They look like

grandmother’s, full

of paper and grace

and love for small

things that youth

has not granted the patience for. 

Our hazel eyes meet

and hers are filled

with the peace

I have spent

all my hours

chasing through

the anxious grasslands

of my mind

having sacrificed

the trees for journals

filled with a thin hope

hanging on black lines

that somewhere in the blank pages

I would find

that I did

love myself. 

She wiped the tears

from my cheek

and promised


the world

would taste

like honey. 



Thomas Piekarski

California, USA

This lady on light rail with bouffant hair 

and infant in her lap sucking a pistol 

misses stop after stop.  


Van Ness Avenue is a tangle: transvestites

posing naked for cops hold up traffic. 


Elsewhere dwarfs plant suitcases

around the fringes of a hippodrome

so elephants won’t be inclined

to steal their counterfeit money. 


One of my uncle’s dying wishes 

as he groped for breath

was that his hallucination be kept secret:

opaque fairies gamboling in the rain. 


Script writers got involved.  They thought

along the lines of a brontosaurus without

tonsils or eyes, such yokels. 

This is why I never watch movies in 3D. 


Butch exited the saloon bright-eyed. 

Too bad he left his toupee on a bench 

in the men’s room where a mouse ate it. 


A fellow who read Hegel behind his

boss’ back while on break at the hotel

was found snoozing on the highway

at peak hour.  He got airlifted 

on wings of a sky-blue gondola. 


Mannequins come late this time, following

the clang of gongs and chuckle of bullets,

every aspect of this pure pleasure.  I know

the natives blend well, but should banish 

their lazy sorts to some island like Tahiti.  



Parinaaz Bains

Pujab, India


A narrative that will forever hold true

Two friends who were thick as thieves

It was easy to see

The bond between my determination and me

The ship of camaraderie rode ferocious waves

With finesse and ease, but behold:

The shallows with rocks armed for assault

The ship shuddered and sank due to neither’s fault

Now the ache of betrayal mars every meeting

Ties cut up; adrift in the void

Life of saints isn’t for mortals

Need to find what was lost, need to step through portals

Into a world where exists a stage after desire

To strive, to prevail, to endure, to stay

To command my life’s tide

I will need my forgotten friend by my side



David Olsen

United Kingdom

https://www. davidolsenpoetry. net

First, Sandra, with dark eyes 

and tawny hair; she learned violin.  

Then Cathy, a blond beauty 

with an infectious laugh.  

Then twins: Barbara and Nancy.  

All perfect girls.  

The man next door stopped trying 

to sire a son, 

and built a solid redwood fence.



Dena Levitz


https://www. instagram. com/thatsledes/?hl=en


I’ve run two marathons and two half-marathons in my life.  

Every minute of every race was hell.  

26. 2 miles of pure hatred

Acts of defiance to prove to myself I could. 

To prove to everyone and silence all doubt. 

Acts of torture as toenails fell off, knees throbbed, and blisters formed. 

Acts of dedication to practice runs and food diaries and fundraisers for Leukemia. 

There was no joy or love in these marathons. 

But I can always say I did them. 

There was triumph in the torture. 

We can do hard things. 

We can force ourselves to keep running, keep our arms pumping and legs working overtime. 

On a highway in San Diego that’s been closed off to cars and filled with sweaty bodies in jerseys. 

Through Disney theme parks with animated characters and costumes

Smile and pose

Smile and run

Smile and send your body forward

Signs of support flashing as racers hobble by. 

Who would do this without pageantry, rock bands, a party to distract and cheer?

An audience has to see the struggle, understand the effort

If a tree falls in the woods and no one sees it, what’s really happened

A marathon is too much

Why do humans do this?

Put themselves through the agony and grit through it?

Why do we do anything? 

To be better, to push for greatness

If Oprah can do it, so can I

If Diddy can do it, so can I

So can I, and I will

Fuck the time, do the race

Fuck the time, do the race

You never have to do this again

Catch up to him, stay with her

It’s like a game of Frogger, forcing alertness but also numbing 

Sprinting was fun in high school

A dynamic thrust forward, pushing and springing to the finish line

Bursting with energy and ability

No thinking needed

Not so with marathons

26. 2 miles in your head trying to not be in your head

No part is fun

In every section of the race a new quest

They call 20 miles in the Wall

But what if the whole thing is a Wall designed for you to push through it at all costs?

Our training stopped at 20 miles so that the last 6 miles are new and untested

That’s the part that’s not guaranteed and also the most terrifying

If it’s simply too much to try the whole race during practice, doesn’t that say it all

Who came up with this notion

Pushing past what feels necessary

Men with bloody nipples

Scrapes, bruises, long-suffering limbs

Lasting impact on joints

But pride and glory in the finish.  

A cape to wrap around the heroes that emerge

Out of the mist of a marathon

Ready to do anything else that life throws their way

What could be harder after all



Lakshman Bulusu

New Jersey, USA

https://www. goodreads. com/author/show/127227. Bulusu_Lakshman

Life is but too short a dream

Too short to see the stars in a stream

Now is the time to lift the arm

To do something in sweet charm


Lift the wingless kiwi to unknown heights

To capture the world dressed in lights

Gift the pilgrim with a strong shaft 

Steer him akin a ship un-tethered from its raft


Unite the lover parted from beloved

Like the flame and its light undivided

Calm the love-filled soul lamenting in secrecy

Their emotions recollected in tranquility


Play greeting notes to season justice

That shall hark back in life’s mystique

To the coterie who cry for a new incarnation

Of boundless travail and tribulation


Train fragile hands many by far

Steel them like rods to bar

The scepter hard, melt it like snow on a bright day

In the face of angelic smiles in heaven’s bay


Rollout withered leaves of evil with showers

Of goodness, for folk to settle in sheltering towers

Where the white sun of honesty streams

To muffle greed with its beams


These deeds make you cognizant and bold

Of the fact that, ‘to hold is more than to behold’

So others are assured of your help 

That makes them as contented self 

And as actions to proclaim

These enamor virtue by their name

In times forward leap

These reign like pearls in ocean deep



Nolo Segundo

Now the happy soldiers

Go to fight again the battle,

Marching bravely forty abreast

With heavy muskets shouldered,

Yelling their cries of pain and glory

As they face the cold cannon

Barking like a pack of mad dogs. 

Down they go in ones and twos,

And sometimes in little bunches,

Collapsing together as though

Put to sleep by the fairy dust

Of long forgotten dreams. 

Both sides feel the urge

To kill, to step the victor

O’er their brothers’ bones. 

Grown men playing—yes

Even perhaps a bit silly—but

Maybe, just maybe,

Some of them are unaware

Of their own anguished deaths

There on that sweating day

Not so very long ago. 

At seventeen I went to that town

To talk of my education and 

In the warm afternoon

I meandered mindlessly 

Amidst the boulders named 

Fearfully for Satan’s lair. 

There suddenly, terribly,

While walking between two

Of the giant stones, my body

Shuddered, an awful shaking

That shook me to the core 

Of my soul, but then I did not yet

Know we never die only once.  



Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom

https://www. instagram. com/pratibhapoetryart/

https://www. facebook. com/pratibhapoetryart


the feeling of




frees us from the


NORM and 


reaches our




so we can













Lorelyn De la Cruz Arevalo

Bombon, Philippines

No climb is the same

be it in the mountain, hill

or even the stairs. 

You have to consider

nature and its unpredictable stance,

every factor influencing any challenge,

the hurdles and obstructions,

delays and uncertainties,

multiple choices or the lack. 

No climb gets easier,

but rest assured that with

every rock you lift,

every block you traverse,

every yoke you carry,

every painful stretch,

every injury you sustain,

your muscle of determination hypertrophies,

your stamina for risk taking increases,

your creativity in finding solutions improves,

your gifts of wisdom and grit grow

your strength of character tested in fire —

you just get better to become your best. 



Jeremy Szuder

https://jeremyszuder. wordpress. com

When the night goes heavy and quiet,

the weight pushes out 

all the airy fluorescent details

that should become fodder 

for later bodies of work and worth,

but they are left to drop

on the floor like islands from 

a sandwich held carelessly 

in between two sheets of 

yesterday's news. 

Just look at me here, 

trying to unclench my fingers

from this fist of work, this blown out

attempt of a day where I took swings

and I tried to hold my chin up high

above wires and antennae,

and the satellite dishes even,

them all transmitting the cipher

of God knows what, over and over,

like savage morse code. 

I walked out my front door,

leaving my loving family nestled

like rosewood chips on fire

inside this hearth called home. 

I went out into the wake,

into the emergency resurgence-

of people, of actions, of attempts made

to find an island just for us. 

It would be a place so quiet and still, 

that the deafness of calm could fill

each island full of their own 

ideas and dreams again,

visions of self realization

that we are all brilliant in ways

uncharted by surrounding waters,

in ways not measured by weight,

and not by floodings of expectations 

or responsibility. 

The islands poke their sandy heads

out from darkened green ocean, 

enough to point themselves up

and into the never-ending big blues. 

The island that sits farthest away

from all other clumps of islands,

you will not be able to see it 

right off the bat, but that is my island. 

It is the one we will call home, 

layered in rosewood chips, 

in my own wires and my very own 

satellite dish. 

I begin paddling to it, slowly. 



Laura Ferries

United Kingdom

https://www. instagram. com/lauraferrieswriter/ 


We are the women once strapped to stools

and shoved in the river

gagged and bound and burned at the stake,

but let’s be real, make no mistake-

it was never about witchcraft and heresy

but blatant cowardly misogyny

plainly, purely and prevalently

and the threads still run through strong today. 

Such a flawed ideology!

How can it make you feel strong to attack

what you erroneously consider weak?

It’s a pathetic prejudice that thrives upon a paradox. 

What woman do you know-

lurks in bushes in the park after dark

plotting pointless predations,

feeding off a need

to sink their teeth 

into a grab for vicarious power?

We are the women who despite it all,

the threats and intrusions and daily catcalls

persecution, patriarchy, and murder,

from Pendle Hill, Salem to Salford,

ancestral past into present,

we summon up our strength

and walk on defiant, heads up, tall. 

With each brutal theft,

with each senseless strike,

you’ll hear the thunder of our rally cry,

ardent and alive,

urgent and angry;

battling for the simple right to safety. 

Enacting violence upon women

does not bolster masculinity. 

Do not get it confused. 

Do not tamper with magic. 

Accept and ride this changing tide,

the moon’s power and pull is on our side. 


You may still sink us to test us. 


We are the women who continue to rise. 



Kassie J Runyan

New York, USA


She haunts me.
When I wake up,
she hides under the bed
for only a moment.
Teasing that she went away.
I blink and she’s back
tapping on my shoulder
with her manicured nail,
painted in blood red
and sharpened to a tip.
Interrupting my thoughts;
my hopes;
reminding me
that she Is always there.
I plan a future
but she frays the corners
of my mind,
teasing me about flights
and storms
and the dangers of them all.
She reminds me of the future
that might never come
to pass.
She stands with me
when I go to my doctor
and they scan my body
looking for danger.
Shrugging her thin shoulders
when I get the all clear
and she mumbles under her breath,
“maybe next year.”
She forwards me articles
about the souls
that lost their battle
with their own mental demons.
Ones that look and feel like mine.
But they made the decision
or were pushed to
and she whispers,
“that could have been you.”
She sits in the pew
of the funeral home
as I pay my respects
to the family of a woman
I barely knew,
but who left the world
after a life well lived.
And the crimson nail
motions towards
the coffin
as her lips pucker
and she mouths,
“that could have been you.”
She is there,
now and always.
Stepping fully out of
the shadows
as I turn out the light
and lay my head on my pillow
trying to ignore her glossy glare
as I slip to sleep.
But still…
I can’t escape her.
She follows me to my dreams…
chasing me
like I’m her prey
and she’s starving for a capture.
She chants and pants,
“that could have been you”
as she haunts me.
Counting down the seconds,
the moments,
until she can caress me
and fold me
into her bosom.
Making me a trophy
residing on her shelf.
I toss and turn in my sleep
and whisper to her in the shadow.
Her name escapes my lips,
and is shared with the world


Melanie Haagman

Girl On The Edge Poetry

United Kingdom

https://www. Facebook. com/girlontheedge90

We’re on a fleeting journey

On a planet green and blue,

Spending time worrying

About what we’re meant to do.

We place such pressure

On ourselves and it’s too much,

And of lives’ simplicity

We’ve become so out of touch.

Rarely focusing on one thing,

We’ve so much on the go,

No questions left unanswered

There’s nothing we can’t know.

Everything is instantaneous,

Off grid is not a thing,

As we clutch our phones so tight,

And respond to every ring.

We’ve rewired our brains

To live in a such a fast-paced way

We think we are experiencing more

As we bolt around each day.

But quality over quantity

Is what I think we need,

And there comes a time in life

To readjust our speed.

So take a breath, look up,

There’s so much more to see,

Sometimes be unavailable,

It’s how we’re meant to be!

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